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South Padre Island Gay Scene - Splash South Padre Island Party 2014


South Padre Island Gay Scene - Splash South Padre Island Party 2014

The historic Port Isabel Lighthouse greets visitors as they proceed across the causeway to South Padre Island

photo by Andrew Collins

There isn't a major gay resort destination on America's Gulf of Mexico shoreline, which isn't terribly surprising given the generally conservative attitudes of residents living between the Florida and Texas gulf coasts. But a few spots have begun gaining a following over the years, among them Pensacola, Florida (famed for its gay Memorial Day festivities each May) and Galveston Island. More recently, the pristine barrier beach of South Padre Island - at the very southern tip of the Texas Gulf Coast - has started attracting increasing numbers of gay weekenders and visitors, especially during its gay spring party weekend, Splash South Padre Island, which is held over a weekend in late April (the upcoming dates are April 24-26, 2014), and then again in the fall - last year it was held in late October.

Splash South Padre Island secures favorable rates from a few affordable, gay-friendly chain hotels, the Travelodge, Comfort Suites Beachside, The Inn, and Suites @ Sunchase, all of which are good budget options any time of year.

For nightlife, again, South Padre has no gay-specific clubs. However, events during Splash South Padre Island events have sometimes taken place at the popular seafood restaurant Louie's Backyard (2305 Laguna Dr.), a gay-friendly spot on the bay.

Padre Island has become famous as a major spring break destination, but it also has a number of interesting festivals and events throughout the year, including the South Padre International Music Festival in November, the Texas State Surfing Championship in April, a film festival in August, and a variety of sports and cultural events. The island is 40 minutes northeast of Brownsville-South Padre Airport, which has numerous flights each day from Houston, and an hour from Rio Grande Valley International Airport in Harlingen, which is served by Southweset Airlines with direct flights from Chicago, Houston, Baltimore, Dallas, Austin, and elsewhere. The island is a 4.5-hour drive south of San Antonio, and a 6-hour drive south of Houston.

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